Kinderszenen, Op. 1: I. Granny’s Garden

| October 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

Granny’s garden is where I spent my childhood exploring and relaxing. It is my playground, my passion, my paradise.

Granny’s 3000-square-feet garden is an outcast of the very center of Shanghai. If not for the line of soaring sequoias, no one would even know about this secret patch of serenity. Realtors would knock on the door, business cards in hands, their eyes quickly measuring the area. “Old lady,” they coaxed Granny, “are you aware of this land’s worth? We could get you plenty of money to buy a dozen houses out of the city.” Granny always gave the same answer, so gradually they left us alone. The garden is my childhood as well as my mother’s and uncles’, so how can she let it go?

A 2.5-year-old me playing in Granny's garden.

A 2.5-year-old me playing in Granny’s garden. Photo credit to my parents.

Before I went to school, I spent days exploring in the garden. It was my special place for adventure. As I eagerly descended the low cement stairs, the garden embraced me. Rosy peony, lush grass, and pink sakura were there to be admired; ripe figs, pomegranates, and grapefruits were ready to be picked. Granny had made me a swing that hung from the inclining old pear tree, so I always sat on there, watching the ant troops march towards the pears’ sweet nectar.

A winding path led to a brick wall that separated us from other housing districts. The wall was infinite fun: when I found a snail, I would slide it up and down the wall, imagining how confused it must have felt. I would trace the cats’ plum-blossom footprints until I lost them. Granny told me that my uncles used to chase each other around on top of this narrow wall. So I started to see them in my head– these two mischievous kids up on the ivy-covered wall, playing acrobatics. On a whim, I too grabbed the ivy and went up, imagining myself to be Jack climbing up beanstalks. When I reached the top, I sat with my legs dangling, letting breeze brush through my hair, feeling myself closer to the chirping sparrows. My uncles were here four decades ago. As I overlooked the garden, I, though young and naive, came across an intricate emotion. I was repeating history.

As I grew older, I spent more time sitting down to admire the garden than running around to explore it. When the weather was nice and warm, Granny and I would have meals beside her vegetable patches and bask on deck chairs. She would watch me as I ate, her eyes glittering; as she laughed, the wrinkles on her face stretched out, making her an absolute sunflower. When I spent too much time doing homework, Granny would hush me out, to “let my eyes take a rest.” I would stare into the multitude of colors, amazed at how lucky I was to have Granny and her garden. I could no longer fit in the swing, so I would sit beneath the pear tree and let the white blossoms fall all over me. I would read a book and doze off under the mild sunlight.

In my mind, Granny’s garden possesses a magical power, a power that pictures fail to capture and words cannot describe. If I could time travel, I would murmur “Granny’s garden,” because the garden is a different world; every delightful moment there, I share with Granny and her garden.

 

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Category: featured, Nature, Reflections

About the Author ()

A native of Shanghai, China, I major in English and minor in French. My writings on this site share my wonderings and wanderings. I search for neither poignancy nor profundity-- I focus on the simple, the lively, and the fun.

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